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First Hand

The really neat thing about publishing a memoir has been the intimate snap shots it provides into my life from 2005 forward. What makes it even more interesting is when pieces of the puzzle finally come together. Chapter 14 in Candy Apple Butterscotch highlights my experience with an armed robbery and subsequent theft of my car. This all happened in 2006.

Friends and fans, just yesterday, thirteen years after the fact the police contacted me to tell me that they found my car. I don’t have all of the details just yet, but I’m making the trip down to retrieve any belongings that I might want and decide how to proceed with the car this weekend. I’m over joyed, and slightly apprehensive at what I might find. According to the officer I spoke to on the phone the car itself is in pretty rough shape but has been sitting in their evidence/impound lot for quite some time. If I decide to keep it I’ll need to have it towed, but that’s the extent of the information I have right now.

The only thing that I would really love to find after so long is one of my handwritten journals that had a lot of sentimental things written in it. I never thought I would ever see it again, let alone have the opportunity to hold it in my hands and read through my past entries again. However, due to the condition of the car, I’m trying not to get my hopes up. I know my journal holds no value to anyone other than myself so I’m certain if the thief simply abandoned the car on the side of the road somewhere the journal will be there. If the thief dumped the car into a local body of water, however, even if my journal is still safely stored in the back seat it will be far too damaged to read through.

Fingers crossed everyone! It’s not often you get to watch the sequel to a book unfolding first hand. lol.

-Becca

    After one particularly hectic day at work as I was closing the restaurant, I had been distracted by talking with Noah and had forgotten to turn off some equipment. The last one to leave, I made it all the way to my car, put the keys in the ignition and then realized my mistake. My boss had just lectured us on remembering to turn off this particular equipment, so I hopped from the car, leaving it running, and ran back inside.

    What I didn’t realize at the time is that an armed robber who had been breaking into the local fast food places was watching me. Because I had closed the store alone a million times before without incident, the rest of my staff had headed home for the evening, and I was by myself. I walked in and quickly made my way back to the controls, flipped off the equipment and, while I was there, did a quick double check of everything else. I didn’t think anything of it when I saw a man walking up behind the counter in my direction because we had many deliveries come in overnight and I was there a bit later than usual. I assumed he was a truck driver and walked toward him, asking if there was anything I could do to help him. It threw him off guard and he paused. He then demanded I give him all the money. At this point, I was slightly in disbelief. I looked at him and asked, “I’m sorry. What?”

    He then raised the handgun he had and motioned me back toward the office, restating that he wanted the money. I looked at him for a moment and calmly replied that I couldn’t get to the money because it was in a time-locked safe. I quietly said I would be happy to show him. Surprised by my calm demeanor, the thief hesitated. He then decided he wanted to see the operation of the safe, so he led me back to the office. I punched in the combination and showed him the time-lock message on the display. He asked what time it was unlocked, and I told him it wouldn’t open until 5 a.m. the next morning when the opening crew would arrive. By this point, he was getting extremely anxious. He asked me a few other questions about where money might be and then decided that he needed to leave. He led me back to the walk-in cooler and made it very clear that he didn’t want to hurt me but that I was to stay in the cooler, and then he shut the door, closing me inside.

As soon as the door closed, I reached up and hit the panic button. I waited for several moments, and when I didn’t hear sirens, I pulled out my cell phone and dialed 911. As soon as I hit send, there was a loud crash outside the freezer door, and I thought the thief might have been cornered. Instead of ending my call to 911, I left the line open and tossed my phone into a box of produce to hide it in case he tried to take me hostage. Nothing happened, and when I didn’t hear any more suspicious noises, I pulled my phone back out. The previous call had ended by this point, so I dialed again. This time I connected with the operator and she assured me help was on the way.

    After the police arrived and surrounded the building, I made a quick dash from the cooler out the back door as I’d been instructed to do and was swept up into a police cruiser by three different officers, while what seemed like a million more officers stormed into the building. I gave my statement to the police and then asked them to turn off my car. The officer looked at me funny and asked me what my car looked like. I gave him the color and make of my car, and he said he would go check and turn off the ignition. He left and returned quickly to inform me that my car was not where I’d left it. I looked at him blankly before the weight of the situation set in. The thief had stolen my car. I added the description of my car to my report and asked if I could call Noah.

    I called three times before Noah answered, and when he finally did, he was very annoyed. I explained that although he’d said he wanted to stay at his place that night, I really needed him to come to my apartment. I can’t remember the exact reason he wanted to stay at his place, but I remember we’d argued about it briefly that evening. It hadn’t been a big fight, but I hadn’t seen him in several days and really wanted to spend time with him, now more than ever. When I called, he thought I was still nagging, trying to convince him to come over. He let out an annoyed sigh, “Why, Rebecca? Why do I need to come down and spend the night with you?” 

    “I know we discussed that you needed to stay at your place tonight, and I’m not trying to cause any problems, but I really need you to come here tonight. I can’t really talk about it right now, but I really need you,” I replied, trying my best to keep from bursting into tears. Up until this point, I had managed not to cry up, which was quite a feat considering what had just happened.

    “Becca, look, either tell me what’s going on or I’m going to hang up the phone. I don’t have time for this,” he said impatiently. 

    I stayed silent, trying to work up the courage to tell him what happened. “Becca? Becca are you still there? I’m counting to five and hanging up the phone. 1, 2…”

    “Just trust me! I don’t want to talk about it. I really need you to come down here. Please, just trust me,” I squeaked quietly.

    “3… 4,” he continued.

    “The restaurant was robbed, and my car was stolen!” I blurted out, my voice cracking with emotion.

    It was the first and one of very few times I ever encountered Noah speechless. After a few moments of silence and with an immediate change of tone, he asked, “Wait. What? Are you serious? Are you okay?”

    “Yeah, I’m fine. He took my car. I need a ride home, so if you could come down and get me, I would appreciate it,” I said.

    “Did he hurt you?” he asked, his voice shifting from deadly serious to slightly emotional.

    “No, no. I think he was actually kind of afraid of me because I didn’t really react, but I don’t want to talk about it right now. Can you just come get me please?” I answered.

    “Yeah, yeah, I’ll be there. I’m on my way,” he answered.

    We said our goodbyes, and I returned to the security footage and talking to the police. A few moments later, my bosses arrived to get all the necessary information for insurance and other legalities and to review the security tapes. They asked me if I was okay and offered to let me borrow a car until I could get a rental. I accepted the offer and called Noah again to let him know that he didn’t have to drive all the way to pick me up; he could instead meet me at my apartment. He agreed and said that he was on his way. I stayed for about an hour longer until we made sure the police had all the information they needed, and then I headed home.

    I arrived shortly before Noah and since my house key had been with my car keys, I had to wait until Noah, whom I’d given an extra key, arrived. We went upstairs together and I checked all the rooms, afraid the thief knew where I lived and was waiting there. Noah was surprisingly silent. While I went through the apartment, he stood in the living room with a distant look in his eyes that I’d never seen before. Even through all our other experiences together -with his nightmares and sleep walking – I’d never seen him like this. I walked toward him, and he opened his arms and hugged me without saying a word. As he held me, my tears began to fall, which was one of the only times during the whole ordeal that I actually cried. When the tears stopped, he looked at me and, in the quietest voice with deadly seriousness, he asked yet again, “Did he lay his hands on you?” 

    “No, he didn’t touch me. Honestly, he didn’t even point the gun at me. He kept it aimed toward the floor,” I related.  “I’m really tired and just want to go to bed. We’ll talk about it in the morning.”

    He held me at arms’ length and looked into my eyes, his face riddled with concern and vehement anger, and said, “Becca, if he laid one fucking finger on you, I will find that son of a bitch and fucking kill him. Seriously, I’ll kill him. Are you sure?”

    I nodded, tearing up again and falling back into his arms. We paused there for a moment longer and then went to bed. He held me the entire night, wrapped in his arms and as close to his body as was comfortable. He kept a kitchen knife within reach on the nightstand, just in case the thief somehow knew where I lived.

    I awoke the next morning to my phone ringing. It was later in the morning, but I was exhausted. I wiggled my way from Noah’s gentle, protective embrace and looked at the caller ID. It was my boss. I assumed he needed something for the police report or something else relating to the robbery so I answered. He made it very clear that I was under no obligation to come in if I was uncomfortable about it, but they hadn’t found anyone to cover my shift that night and wanted to know if I could come in. I thought about it for a moment and decided that as long as my staff stayed and left with me, I really wasn’t in any danger. Additionally, the thief now knew there was no way to get to the cash. The likelihood of his returning to the same restaurant so soon was slim to none. I knew that the only way I was going to get over the fear was to face it head on, so I decided that I would. I would need to get some new uniforms, though, because my laundry had been in the back seat of my car.

    I gently woke Noah after I hung up the phone and explained that we needed to head down to my restaurant and pick up my uniforms so I could work that night. He was surprised to hear that I was going back into work so soon, yet proud of me for not letting the episode get me down. I still had the car my boss had so graciously lent me, but we took Noah’s car instead.

    On the ride down to the store, Noah and I talked about what the police had said and our theories about who the thief was and where we might find him. After I picked up the uniforms, he asked me if there was anything else I needed to do before I had to report in for my shift. I answered no, so we set off on a fruitless journey across the city in search of my car. After about an hour of driving, I told him that he didn’t need to waste his gas and time driving around pointlessly.

    “It’s not pointless! Someone tried to hurt my woman. I want to do something. I can’t just sit around and wait. This is something, even if it is pointless!” he nearly yelled in response, slamming his palm against the steering wheel.

    “And just what exactly do you plan on doing if you find this guy who took my car?” I asked, trying to reason with him.

    “I told you. I’ll kill him,” he said with a cold, calculative voice that scared me.

    That was the end of the conversation. I was both flattered and rather worried. It was nice to see that he was so passionate about protecting me, especially since we had been going through somewhat of a rough patch, but I had also seen him at his worst and knew he was completely capable of killing this guy if we happened to find him.

    After a few moments of silence, Noah spoke again. “Hey, pull out my CD binder. I think it’s the third disc. Put it in. There’s something I want you to listen to.” I did as he asked, found the CD and inserted it into the dash.

    It took him a moment to find the track he wanted, but then I listened closely as he had instructed. I didn’t immediately understand why he thought this song was so important. The gist of the song, as I understood it, was about a man upset over losing his girlfriend, stalking her and then fighting with her new boyfriend. “Why do you want me to listen to this? I’m not cheating on you,” I asked inquisitively.

    “No! Not that part. The chorus. I want you to listen to this anytime someone hurts or scares you, and just remember that nobody fucks with my girl without dealing with me. They better think twice,” Noah explained, as he took my hand and held it tightly.  I didn’t respond. I just looked at him, tears welling up in my eyes as we continued our search, scouring the city for my car.

Copyright R. MacCeile 2018

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